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Have you ever dreamed of owning an aircraft? If so, you may have been under the impression that your dreams were out of your reach. After all, owning an aircraft is a huge expense, and one that you probably cannot fit into your budget, right? Not necessarily. Although having an aircraft is another expense that you have to include in your monthly budget, there are ways to drive down the costs associated with owning and maintaining a plane. How? Follow these tips:
Buying a plane
When you are thinking of buying a plane, you have one of two options: buy it used or brand new. Some people who dream of owning an aircraft often think it’s a good idea to buy a used aircraft and invest in fixing it up instead of spending more money on a new aircraft. They believe even after the costs associated with repairing the plane, a used aircraft is still cheaper. But, this is not necessarily true.
Yes, newer airplanes that are in good condition will cost you significantly more than used aircrafts that are in need of a little TLC. But, what about the long-term costs of each? Depending on the age of the used aircraft and the condition it’s in, you may end up spending more than you would have if you had just bought a brand new plane.
Remember, old airplanes will need a lot of work upfront, and will probably need repairs more often. In some cases, it’s cheaper to spend more on a newer plane and save money in repairs later. This is something you need to take into consideration before you decide if you can afford to buy an aircraft.
You could also consider signing up for a shared ownership program, which is like timeshare ownership for aircrafts. This is a great alternative for pilots who can’t afford to own a plane but still want to fly as much as possible.
If you plan on frequently using your aircraft, fuel can be one of the greatest expenses associated with owning a plane. Because of this, it’s important that you consider how fuel efficient a plane is before you invest in it. The more trips you plan on taking with your plane, the more important fuel efficiency becomes.
But, if you already have purchased the aircraft, there are still ways you can cut fuel costs. First, make sure you do your research to determine where you should fuel up when you’re low on gas. Fixed base operators, or FBOs, tend to charge pilots more if they fill up your tank from a fuel truck, so always try to go to a self-service station if it is available. The cost of fuel will vary depending on the FBO—even within the same airport. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead and know which FBO you should visit right when you land at an airport. Although the difference may not seem like much, every penny adds up over time to help you lower the costs associated with owning a plane.
How can you determine where you should land to fuel up? There are a number of different apps available for pilots to download so they can research the fuel prices at various airports. Study this information prior to your flight so you know where you should land to save money. Just be sure to plan your flight so you have enough fuel to make it to your final destination. Don’t put yourself in danger by flying on a near-empty tank just to try to reach an airport with lower fuel costs. Remember, your safety should always come first.
Another major expense associated with owning a plane is the cost of storing it in a hangar. But, the cost of hangar space can vary depending on the location, so if you want to save extra money every month, call around and try to find the cheapest deal near you. Or, you could even ask another aircraft owner to split a space with you so you can share the monthly expense. If you don’t know anyone who has a plane, ask the different places that you call whether there are any owners who are looking for someone to share their hangar with. Sharing a space can help you save hundreds of dollars a month, so this would be the ideal scenario for budget-conscious aircraft owners.
Maintain it yourself
Aircraft owners must also pay for their planes to be maintained, but these costs can be reduced if you decide to take on some of the easier maintenance work yourself. If you don’t consider yourself very handy, you can still handle fairly simple tasks such as changing the airplane’s oil or polishing the surfaces.
Once you buy an aircraft, it’s essential that you protect your investment by polishing your plane on a regular basis. Polishing can help remove oxidation, water spots and cloudiness that may have formed on the surface of your metal aircraft. If a plane is not regularly polished, it will have no protection against harsh external elements such as sun, salt, and water, which means it will be incredibly vulnerable to damage. Look for a polish that has been aviation approved, such as Brightwork Polishes, and be sure to get the proper equipment to apply it, such as an electric polisher and various buffing pads. If you’ve never polished a plane before, consult YouTube videos to learn how it’s done, or ask another aircraft owner to give you a helping hand.
Although it may seem time-consuming to polish your plane on a regular basis, it helps prevent the need for costly repairs down the road, so it’s a small price to pay to protect your investment and lower the cost of potential repairs.
So you see, owning an aircraft may not be as expensive as you once thought. Whether you’re considering buying a new aircraft or trying to reduce the expenses associated with the one you already have, follow these tips closely to help you cut back on costs.